Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is a beautiful plant, a perennial herb that is native to North America. It thrives in sunny locations and has long spikes of lavender-colored flowers that generally bloom June through September. It’s a member of the mint family.
I have a large patch in my garden: because it grows in a “clumping” manner, it has spread out a great deal since I planted it two years ago. It is constantly buzzing with honeybees…
…and butterflies and hummingbirds love it, too.
Apart from being lovely to look at (the cut flowers enhance any arrangement), anise hyssop is an edible flower, and the flowers have a very sweet licorice-like flavor.
Anise Hyssop makes a delicious tea that is said to benefit digestion. To make a basic anise hyssop tea, steep 2-3 tablespoons of bruised fresh leaves in 2 cups of boiled water for 5 minutes or so, strain, and drink hot or iced.
In The Good Herb: Recipes and Remedies from Nature, author Judith Benn Hurley suggests using the tea to poach peaches, a fantastic idea I am definitely going to try.
The leaves can also be added to baked goods, including fruit tart and pie crusts. Add it to any baked goods that work well with a black licorice flavor, such as cookies or breads. Lemon pairs well with anise hyssop, so give this Lemony Anise Hyssop Tea Bread a try.
I recently discovered that anise hyssop leaves make a wonderful addition to salads. Yesterday, I combined some sauteed greens with cherry tomatoes, cooked fava beans, and naturally smoked mozzarella. I drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar and then sprinkled it with chopped anise hyssop. Yum!
According to Hurley, anise hyssop also has some notable medicinal uses: the Cheyenne and Chippewa used the flowers and leaves as a cold and cough remedy. In a month or two, I plan to dry the leaves and then preserve them in honey to have on hand for treating illness over the winter. My Garlic Honey Sore Throat Remedy has worked really well for me, so this could make a nice alternative.
More Anise Hyssop Recipe Ideas
- Peach and Anise Hyssop Jam
- Anise Hyssop and Honey Poached Peaches and Cape Gooseberries
- Sumac-Anise Hyssop Spice Mix
- Watermelon Salad with Purslane and Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop Tea (+ Other Recipe Ideas)
- 2-3 tbsp anise hyssop fresh bruised leaves
- 2 cups water boiled
- 1 tsp raw honey optional
- Chop up 2-3 tablespoons of bruised fresh leaves.
- Boil 2 cups of water and remove from heat. Add anise hyssop leave and allow to steep for 5 minutes or so
- Strain and add honey, if desired. Serve hot or iced.